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Match Recap: Sacramento Republic 2, Swope Park Rangers 2

Valiant effort was just enough to tie with a top contender.

Joseph de Ocampo

After their loss to Reno 1868 FC on Sunday, Sacramento came out with lots to prove and with great urgency to win 3 points to stay locked in at 5th place. After what was a hard-fought game, Sacramento would only be able to get 1.

The weather Wednesday night was perfect, but Sacramento Republic came out sloppy early on.

In just the opening minutes, Swope Park forward Hassan Saad had a couple early opportunities. His first shot was a low one and approached the net however it crossed past the front of the goal and out of play. His second attempt in the fourth minute was like a small dagger to the thigh. He made it look easy, taking his shot from the left side (assisted by Christian Duke) of the box and sneaking it by Evan Newton, who appeared to not realize a shot was coming his way. The early goal gave the visitors a one goal lead and put Republic in a bad spot early on.

Once the early goal was surrendered, Sac Republic received a burst of desperate energy to keep the game competitive, but Swope Park managed to keep control by taking easy passes and penetrating when possible to keep the Quails on edge.

After taking the ball away on defense in the ninth minute, Emrah Klimenta attempted to pass back to Newton, but his control of the ball was sloppy. Swope Park’s goal leader, Kharlton Belmar, stole it away in the box and took what should have been an easy shot attempt that would have made the score 2-0 in Swope Park’s favor. Fortunately, Newton was alert and slid down horizontally to make the [unnecessary] save.

It was at this moment, Sacramento had enough. They began an aggressive run that would continue for the rest of the first half. In the 10th minute, Trevin Caesar came back and took a shot attempt with a defender draped all over him. Although it wasn’t an easy attempt, it was the best chance Sac Republic had seen so far during the match.

Soon after in the 14th minute, Wilson Kneeshaw stole the ball from a Swope Park defender and stood one foot from the goal. Unfortunately, he stood to the side and didn’t have a clean look, so he passed it towards the middle for what would have been an easy goal, but no Sac Republic player was there. Caesar tried to salvage what was left of the attack, but by that time reinforcements arrived for the Rangers and they forced the ball out of bounds.

After struggling in the first 10 minutes, Sac Republic started to get more and more comfortable as the game went on and ultimately became more aggressive.

In the 19th minute, a deep, outside pass came to Blackwood. As he stood alone with several defenders, he had no choice but to pass back to midfielder Peter McGlynn, who crossed it towards the middle of the box. Unfortunately, the pass was far away from any Republic team member and was retrieved easily by Swope Park’s goalie Adrian Zendejas.

Hayden Partain stole a pass from Swope Park at midfield in the 30th minute. Realizing the team had numbers, he lofted a pass over to Caezar just outside the goal box. As Caesar gained possession, he was pushed to the ground and the ball squirted to McGlynn, who proceeded to make another poor cross that landed nowhere near a Republic player.

Swope Park fired right back in the 30th minute by penetrating the middle of the box once again, one on one with Newton. Newton aggressively attacked the ball while it was still on the ground for the save, keeping the score 1-0.

In the 34th minute, Swope Park midfielder Christian Duke dribbled the ball down the right sideline, but what aggressively slide tackled by James Kiffe. Unfortunately, a caution was awarded to Kiffe.

Directly after that occurrence, Caesar took control of the ball on Sac’s side of the field and weaved his way through multiple defenders. As he approached the top of the box, he was tackled by a Swope Park defender, which set Klimenta up for a free kick. Klimenta took aim and fired. The ball curved and hit the crossbar, just narrowly avoiding going in. SPR goalkeeper Zendejas dove for the ball but missed, and the ball dropped right in front of Wilson Kneeshaw, who might have had the easiest goal of his career to tie the game.

During the 42nd minute, Trevin Caesar took control of the ball once again at midfield and quickly moved the defense but was tripped by SPR forward Nansel Selbol, who earned a yellow card and set up Kiffe for a free kick. The free kick was deflected out of bounds which was followed up by 2 corner attempts that failed to threaten the opposing goalie.


At the start of the 2nd half, the players were very tentative as the first 12 minutes resulted in a midfield possession battle.

In the 52nd minute, tings started to heat up as a low cross came for Caesar. He slid for the shot attempt but it was deflected away.

In the 65th minute, Swope Park forward Selbol was given an opportunity with a good look within the box, but was interfered with by Rodriguez. The ball went flying out of bounds, setting up a corner. Flying towards the middle of the box, the ball landed five feet from the net and was immediately kicked away by Sac Republic’s defenders. The ball would later be brought back up the field by the Rangers, but the ball would get deflected out of bounds on the left side of Sacramento’s net.

In the 69th minute, Christian Duke was given the ball during the throw in and he crossed the ball beautifully to Belmar, who stood in the box with inside positioning. The ball landed at his feet and he made a slight swing resulting in an easy goal. Newton stood no chance as his positioning was affected by Duke’s initial touch. The goal gave Swope Park a 2-1 lead.

Gabe Gissie was fouled in the 70th minute after just being subbed in. This led to a free kick and an additional cross. However, neither made a difference as Swope Park was in full lock down mode in the middle of the box.

Sacramento continued to fight as they desperately were looking for ways to tie the match up, but Swope Park continued to stay in control. As time slipped away, Swope Park attacked from the outside yet again in the 83rd minute.

In the 85th minute, Harry Williams tried for an equalizer by sliding for a shot attempt roughly seven feet from the net, but he was denied by Zendejas and the ball was defected past the back line for a corner.

The game was starting to slip away as Sacramento continued to attack with every ounce of energy it had. Finally, in the 87th minute, Elliot Hord crossed the ball from the far right side of the field, perpendicular to the net, to Blackwood, who proceeded to impressively volley the ball into the back of the net with little time left in the match.

After a couple minutes of comfort for Republic, Swope Park attempted to strike back and gain the lead once again.

In the 89th minute, Swope Park forward Mark Gonzalez sprinted at full speed one on one with Sacramento defender Roderiguez, but the young center back took a risk by slide tackling him within the box and was rewarded for it when Newton dove on the loose ball.

The final minutes featured several poor cross attempts and desperate clearances as both teams tried not to settle for a tie game.

Ultimately when the refs finally blew the whistle to end the game, both teams walked off the field gasping for air and looking for a place to rest. Overall, both teams showed nothing less than great effort, but neither team was able to come out on top.

FINAL: Sacramento 2, Swope Park 2